Easter Show

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Last year I posted about attending my local Alpine Garden Society’s annual show and it was attending this show that made me decide to have a go at entering plants into shows.

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It’s interesting how different the plants exhibited this year are from last year.  The show is always on Easter Monday so we were a week later but it was plain to see how the milder temperatures had resulted in the season being much more advanced.  The number of narcissus and tulips was significantly reduced, last year there were even crocus on display.  Many experienced exhibitors were saying they had struggled to find plants to show due to the advanced season.

Benthamiella patagonica
Benthamiella patagonica

Looking back at my photographs it is interesting that the plants that appeal to me aren’t the traditional alpine cushions such as the Bentamiella patagonica above but more foliage plants and/or woodland plants.

Podophyllum 'Spotty Dotty'
Podophyllum ‘Spotty Dotty’
Uncinia rubra
Uncinia rubra

Yes the Podophyllum is classed as an alpine, as are many other favourites such as Aquilegia, Peonies, Trilliums and Arisaema, it’s not all cushion plants.  I was rather taken by the grass above which is now on my wish list – I love the blood-red of the foliage.

Saxifraga longifolia
Saxifraga longifolia

But then again who can resist this Saxifraga longifolia which I think is just stunning.

Daphne gemmata
Daphne gemmata

This Daphne was quite stunning but I suspect it will be sometime before I can aspire to such a plant especially as they are quite hard to come by.

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I am starting off in the Novice Section which as you can see attracts far fewer entries than the other classes.  However, we all have to start somewhere and the beauty is that you are fairly guaranteed to win something which is what you need to spur you on to progressing.  I had a bit of a dither earlier in the week about whether to enter or not.  The flowers on my narcissus were determiningly remaining shut and the primulas I had anticipated entering had no signs of flowers at all.  However, with some persuasion from my son,  I decided to bite the bullet and enter whatever I had on the basis you never know.  I was glad I did as I came away with three 1sts, two 2nds, one 3rd and one unplaced.  I know that my firsts were really because my plants were the only entries but its still a thrill and overall due to the number of entries I made I won Overall Winner in the Novice section.

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The other nice thing is that regular exhibitors are so pleased to see new people entering and there were a number of comments that the novice section the show had a better novice display than many of the national shows because a couple of us had entered a good number of plants.

This is the fourth show I have entered – each one slightly different from the other – and I think I am hooked on showing now.

Let the bulb planting start!

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I do like planting bulbs, even more so than I like sowing seeds and with bulbs you don’t have to prick things out, pot up etc.  I think bulbs are wonderful, its amazing how much is packed into them.  You pop them in the ground, walk away and in six months time you have beautiful flowers – whats not to like.

In previous years I have been a little cautious in my spending on bulbs mainly from having to be thrifty for years and years as a single parent.  However, times they are a changing and I am in a position now to indulge my passions a bit more so I have bought far more bulbs this year, although my inherent caution still held me back a bit.  Also as anyone who has read this blog for a while will know I have been discovering the world of alpines and showing plants this past year so back in April I ordered a whole load of miniature bulbs with the express view of, hopefully, having some plants to exhibit.

Over the last few weeks the parcels have started to arrive, so far from miniature Bulbs, Peter Nyssen and Buried Treasure – Avon Bulbs are still due.  Conscious of how many bulbs I have to plant today was set aside to beginning the task, although it isn’t really a task.  I had the benefit of using my new workspace in the garage which my eldest son has been creating for me – this is my reward for giving up a corner of the garden for his workshop.  Having bought up the local nurseries supply of small pots I did the show bulbs, with the exception of the tulips, first.  I am leaving all the tulips until well into November to try to limit the chances of them getting tulip fire.

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So far I have planted the following:

Narcissus Joy Bishop
Narcissus Sun Disk
Narcissus Pacific Coast
Narcissus Beryl
Narcissus Assoanus
Bulbocodium vernum
Iris histriodes
Lady Beatrix Stanley
Sternbergia greuteriana
Brimeura fastigata alba
Iris stalonifera
Colchicum davisu
Allium bollandieri

I am planting them in a very gritty mix of horticultural grit and John Innes No 2, almost 50:50 and with a handful or two of horticultural sand thrown in to help with drainage.  At one of the talks I have been to this year the speaker, well-known for his prize winner displays, was saying how he planted bulbs straight onto grit and then filled in around the bulbs with the compost.  I couldn’t quite bring myself to do this but after some research I decided to go for a super gritty compost so we shall see if it works – if nothing else the weight of the grit will stop the pots falling over!

I have also planted the first Narcissus in the garden. Narcissus Pipit and Narcissus Minnow have gone into the Cottage Border which is now ready for Spring – so that’s one part of the garden ticked off for a while.